As the calendar turns to September, the athletic year for Ohio State is in full bloom. While attention is focused on a new era in Ohio State football, the boys of spring are preparing for a year in which they hope they too will receive national attention.
A favorite to win the Big Ten in 2013, entering year three under Greg Beals, camp opened in front of family, fans, and friends of the program with eight returning position starters, five starting pitchers, along with three key relievers while also welcoming one of the conference’s top recruiting class.
Having a season opening practice open to the public, a "Midnight Madness environment," said Beals – video after the jump – was brought together to show the team the excitement and support behind Ohio State athletics and the baseball program.
For those unable to attend last night there will be other opportunities this fall to watch Ohio State take the diamond.
On Oct. 13th Ohio State will play one of its inter-squad Scarlet and Gray World Series contests in Chillicothe at V.A. Memorial Stadium. With a first pitch set for 5 p.m., fans will be offered the chance to stick around the team and stadium to take in the Ohio State-Indiana football game at 8 p.m. on the stadium's scoreboard.
One week prior, Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium will welcome back program alumni. The third annual Ohio State Baseball Alumni Day is set for Oct. 6. Former members of the Buckeye nine will participate in the alumni game at 3 p.m. with food served afterwards at 5 p.m. and a viewing of the 8 p.m. Nebraska-Ohio State football game available at the stadium.
With fall practice under way here are a few points of interest:
-Ohio State junior right-handed pitcher Josh Dezse enters September as Baseball America’s 37th-ranked prospect for the 2013 draft. Dezse, who has served as Ohio State’s closer his first two seasons, will looked to be stretched out and converted to a weekend starter this season. Dezse has hit 100 MPH in the past and looks to become Ohio State’s third first round pick since 2007.
-Ohio State lost an expected outfield starter in Tyler Hollick, a would-be junior college transfer who was selected and sign by the San Francisco Giants in June’s draft. Competition for the spot vacant following the graduation of David Corna will be one of the most fierce position battles. Seniors Mike Carroll and Joe Ciamacco are at the top of the pecking order. Freshmen Jacob Bosiokovic and Zach Ratcliff will also help fuel the competition.
-Bosiokovic, a two-time Division I Ohio High School Athletic Association Player of the Year out of Delaware Hayes, may see time at third. Third base will not return its starter as Brad Hallberg makes the move across the diamond back to first, his 2010 position, as Dezse leaves the diamond when not pitching to be used as OSU's designated hitter. Sophomore Ryan Leffel, who often was used as a defensive replacement at third when Dezse closed forcing Hallberg to first, will be who Bosiokovic competes against at the hot corner.
-Fans may not see much of returning ace Jaron Long this fall. The most strenuous work Long did last night was toss a football with Ohio State assistant Josh Newman. The first-team All-Big Ten performer will see a heavy dose of rest and relaxation this fall after hurling a combined 137.2 innings between Ohio State and his Cape Cod team, the Bourne Braves. Long carried a 2.66 throughout his sophomore season for Ohio State while striking out 63 against just 13 walks in 101.1 innings. This summer, in the prestigious wood bat league, Long had a 3.47 ERA with 32 strikeouts and five walks against college baseball’s best.
-Back on the mound will be junior right-handed pitcher Greg Greve. Greve was limited in action during the last quarter of the season with a nagging shoulder injury. Greve did not pitch over the summer as he let the shoulder rest and heal. The injury is behind him and Greve participated in a bullpen session last night.
-The pitching staff appears to be as deep as ever. With a healthy Greve, a move to a starter's role for Dezse, Long returning alongside senior right-handed pitchers Brett McKinney and Brad Goldberg (who returns after being ineligible due to a credit hour shortage after transferring from Coastal Carolina in 2010), Ohio State is set to have five viable rotation candidates. As the Buckeyes have the goal of hosting a Regional, however the weekend rotation shapes out, Ohio State will have two mid-week arms that would rival opponents’ weekend hurlers and put them in a favorable position to rack up wins.
-Ohio State remains strong defensively up the middle with returnees at each position. The twin-killing combo of second baseman Ryan Cypret and shortstop Kirby Pellant compose one of the Big Ten’s best defensive middle infield units. Behind the plate senior Greg Solomon and sophomore Aaron Gretz are back as too is center fielder junior Tim Wetzel.
Ohio State will be looking to build off a 2012 season that saw them finish 33-27 and sixth in the Big Ten at 11-13.